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LITERARY    LIFE                        221

thought, and was against tin&pr£cieux style of writing. But after
that good prose became almost impossible. The terseness and
refinement which the literary language had come to may be
seen in the following Life of Mr* Wu Liu (Five Willows} by
T'ao Yiianming (A.D. 327-427), supposed to be a portrait of

imself, in exactly one hundred and twenty-five Chinese words,

nd held up as a literary model:

Mr, [Wu Liu] is a native of I don't know what place. His
name and surname, too, are unknown. There are five
willows by his house: hence the title. He is quiet and talks
very little. [He] does not care for money or fame. [He] likes
to read books, without trying to know their exact meaning.
Whenever he appreciates [a passage], he is so happy as to
forget about his food. He loves wine, but, being poor,
cannot always provide it. His friends and relatives know this
fact and they sometimes ask him to come over for a drink.
He always finishes the wine, and makes up his mind to be
drunk. After he gets drunk, he retires, and does not mind
where he finds himself. His walls are bare and do not shelter
him from wind or sunshine. He wears a short jacket of
flax-cloth in tatters, and his rice-bowl is always empty. But
he does not care. He often writes to amuse himself and
indicates his ambition in life, and forgets all about the worldly
successes or failures. He dies like that.

liat is dainty prose, but not good prose, according to our
.efinition. It is an absolute proof that the language was dead,
uppose one were compelled to read only prose of this type,
fhere the characterization is the vaguest, the facts are the
imsiest, and the narration the barest—what would happen to
ne's intellectual content?

This leads to a more important consideration of the intdlec-
tial content of Chinese prose works. If one picks up any
'Collected Works" of a writer, with which Chinese libraries
nd book stores abound (these always forming the largest
livision in Chinese catalogues), and examines its contents, one
ias the feeling of being lost in a desert of essays, sketches,
dographies, prefaces, postscripts^ ceremonial writings, official